What’s up guys?! Happy Wednesday! So as you know, since the beginning of this year, I’ve been abstaining from eating all things chocolate, to begin what I like to call my “addiction project”. It’s been a total of 10 days now, so I figured I’d check in and document my progress/experience so far. Here are some of my notes:
- Out of the 10 days that I’ve been avoiding the consumption of chocolate, I’ve only caved on one day (which was my 25th birthday party). I justified that day as an “exception day”, and I am STILL feeling guilty for doing that. In the life of a recovering addict, there are NO EXCEPTION DAYS. An alcoholic cannot just decide to drink on ‘exception days’ like their birthday, a wedding, a bachelor/bachelorette party, a trip to Vegas, etc. A meth addict cannot just decide to light up when they’ve had a long/difficult day, or when a group of their addict friends decide to hang out. When an addict makes the decision to go into recovery, there are no loopholes. They are committing to a lifetime of honesty, restraint, and willpower. Although this addiction project of mine is a mock-recovery assignment, I will commit to adhering to my recovering ‘addict’-mindset moving forward. No more cheating. No more caving. No more exceptions. [[not even on Valentine’s Day–the most chocolate-ridden day of them all]]. *sigh*. The best way that I can get an accurate experience of recovery (given that I am not actually addicted to a drug or alcohol) is to do all that is in my power to emulate the struggles and victories that addicts face on a day-to-day basis.
- Social Life Crisis: Between work life and grad school life, I love to find time for my friends by meeting them for coffee, late-night happy hour, or ice-cream runs. But I am starting to realize just how many calories I consume in a given week as a means of being social. In these past 10 days, I have had to refrain from pizookie offerings, Baskin Robbins pitstops, mochas & salted caramel hot chocolates, and much more. From choosing to reject all forms of chocolate, I have noticed that my usual lifestyle is ridden with poor eating decisions, and literally NO will power. Until now, I have allowed myself to accept nearly every opportunity of something delicious and sugary, and as a result of this realization, I’ve decided to be more selective in my acceptance of dessert offerings at the conclusion of this experiment. Due to this project, I’ve had to find new ways to spend time with my friends. No more discussion over dessert. I imagine that this would be a very big problem for addicts in the real world, who have likely found friends who enjoy the same vices as them. When all you’ve ever done with your friends is engage in your addictions together, there are few other options when you decide to quit…and chances are, your friends are not on the same page as you regarding recovery. So what does this mean? You lose old friends, and are tasked with the difficulty of making new ones—ones that are a good influence. It is not easy to leave your old life and habits behind and start anew. It is scary and daunting. I imagine this is a big part of the reason why people get stuck in their addictions and feel that there is little way out. The motivation to progress is hindered by the fear of abandoning the familiar and venturing off into the overwhelming unknown.
- Pervasive Thoughts & Urges: The first few days were the worst. I never really noticed how often I thought about eating chocolate until I was not allowing myself to eat it. In the morning, in the late morning, after lunch, in the late afternoon, after dinner, you name it. For many years, I’ve looked to chocolate to start my day, and to end my day. I have stashed chocolate supplies in every place that I visit on a daily basis. It’s in my drawer at work, in a jar in my bedroom, in my kitchen, etc. I have used chocolate as a motivation for many things, including as a way to treat myself when I accomplish something (or really anything at all). Chocolate has been my driving force, my happiness, my relief, my depression’s friend, etc. It is my vice. I’ve had to re-train my thinking in the last 10 days, and I’ve noticed that I crave it less and less as time goes on. I’ve thrown away all of my stashes, and have removed any reminders of chocolate (including a little sign in my room that says, “Love is all you need, but a little chocolate every now and then doesn’t hurt”). The best way to remove yourself from your addiction is to remove the things that spur the addiction.
- Alternatives: I do still have a sweet tooth, and I do still look for ways to satisfy it. Instead of chocolate, I now try to snack on yogurt, nut & dried fruit trail mixes, peanut butter & bananas, medjool dates, etc. Getting my chocolate fix was oftentimes mindless. I would reach into my drawer or chocolate jar and would immediately satisfy my craving. Now my alternative options take planning. I have to go to the store and stock up on my options, then remember to take them with me when I leave for the day. One of the lessons of the church service I attended last Sunday was that if you spend your life coasting, the only way you can go is downhill. When we get used to doing things mindlessly, we cease to make improvements and progress in our lives. Planning ahead, calculating our day, and making new choices is healthy. Do it.
So in 10 days, I feel that I’ve already gained a good deal of insight. It’s just the beginning so far, but I am confident that I will continue to learn more about myself and this process and I am excited to share my findings. Stay lovely folks.